Welcome aboard!

Indian cuisine is a riot of colours, flavours, and spices. Every state has its own unique culture- ingrained taste bud. And, to many of us staying within familiar tastes is a sacrosanct act. Of course an occasional trip to a speciality restaurant that serves another fare is ok. But, as a matter of routine ...at home...NO!

One of the benefits of being born to parents who dared an interstate marriage (am talking about India of the 70's) was being able to widen a regional taste bud to accept, experiment and, relish eclectic cuisines :-)

I love food! Be it traditional or fusion, cooking is all about turning out fare that is tasty and healthy.I welcome all lovers of good food to come on aboard and share your kitchen adventures.

If you like what you see, do leave a comment. If you don't, please leave a suggestion to help me make this better.

You can also request for any recipe you want. Just leave a note in a comment box.

Happy cooking!

Dershana

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dairy free, eggless, Black Forest Cake with Coconut Cream topping

My little one is allergic to dairy fat. Now, coming from essentially a South Indian background this was one fact that was really hard to assimilate. My childhood was fed on home grown cow's milk, yoghurt, milk sweets, ghee, butter what not. And, we are led to believe, from then, that there is no proper sustenance for a child without dairy intake. So, when I made the association between Abhi's (my lil one) colic and adenoid inflammation to milk fat intake, it triggered nothing short of a  mini earthquake in the immediate family circle. Someone even said , " It is because you are too hygenic about baby care", " You dont add salt into the rice you feed her", etc etc and power struggles with people (even close of kin) who refuse to give up on gifting her huge milk chocolate bars, ghee laced Indian sweet dubbas, cream biscuits etc. Well, well, well.. all in the game. Found this easy diary free, eggless  Black Forest Gateau recipe on Essential Vegan and wanted to try it for my daughter's birthday. I made my own tweaks to the original recipe, reduced teh sugar drastically, replaced all purpose flour with whole wheat flour etc etc. The daughter loved the cake and thought she was eating cream cake just like all her friends and that is all the appreciation I ever need :-)


Ingredients for Cake

Raw granulated brown sugar - 50 gms
Whole wheat flour (fine ground) - 170 gms
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 3 dessertspoons
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon (evened out to remove extra)
Baking powder (aluminium free) - 1 teaspoon
Sunflower oil - 60 ml
Apple cider vinegar - 2 teaspoons
Cold water - 200 ml

Ingredients for Topping

Unsweetened coconut milk - 1/2 tin
Castor sugar - 50 gms
Syrup preserved Maraschino cherries - 250 gms bottle (you will need all of the liquer in which the cherries are soaked plus as many cherries you need for decoration)

Mix the oil, sugar, and cocoa with a ladle so that the sugar granules start dissolving. Add the rest of the ingrdients and mix using a wooden ladle into a batter without lumps (do not use the electric mixer).
Preheat oven to 180 °. Pour batter into a proofed cake tin, ideally spring form tray since this cake will be very airy and can break on rough handling.
Bake for 1/2 hour at 150 °. Check with a fork to see if done or let be for another 10 mts. Remember oven tempretures differ and what works on my basic OTG might not be the exact time on your machine.

Topping prep work

Store the coconut milk tin in your freezer for atleast an hour. Place your castor sugar in a mixing bowl and keep it in the fridge too until time for assemble.

Assembling the cake

Remove cake onto a serving tray or plate only when completely cooled.Keep rough side up. Keep the cake in the fridge for about 15 minutes. take out and carefully pour the cherry liquer all over it, in batches so that it is all absorbed.
Take out and open teh coconut milk tin. You will find the thick coconut cream has risen and solidified as a top layer. Scoop it out into the bowl with cold castor sugar. Whip them up using a large fork.
Layer the cherry liquer soaked cake with the coconut milk cream and decorate with cherries. Cover and refrigerate for another 10 minutes or until serving time. Remember to take cake out only when it is time to serve.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Simple chicken curry using fresh, home-ground masala

It's been quite a while since I last posted here. I do go through occasional pangs of guilt when I see how deligently some of my food blogger friends keep their blogs going. So much care goes into the high resolution pictures, the side panels with their up to date blog tools and apps etc etc. Well, well... here is a quick one while the guilt trip lasts.

This recipe is inspired by my eldest paternal aunt, my dad's eldest brother's wife (valiya peramma). She was the one from whom I learnt that the 'readymade chicken masalas' that throng the supermarket aisles were in no way necessary to get that 'authenic kerala kozhi curry' (chicken curry) taste. Since then, i've experimented with fresh spices and slowly my taste buds learnt to despise the store bought masala as inferior.

No dificult elbow grease required for this one (have I told you what a LAZY cook I am). Happy cooking, buddies...

Ingredients
Fresh chicken pieces - 1 Kg
Tomatos - 2 medium sized (Cubed)
Onions - 2 medium sized (chopped fine)
Fresh Ginger - a large piece (  2-3 inches or so)
Garlic - 10 cloves
Tomato paste - 2 dessertspoons
Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon

Grind the ginger and garlic to paste.


Dry spices to be ground
Cloves - 4 Nos
Cinnamon - 1/4 inch stick
Nutmeg - a little piece ( I bring back whole nutmeg from my mom in law's garden, if you cant get whole, use powdered)
Mace - a couple of strands
Poppy seeds (khus khus) - 1/2 teaspoon
Fennel - 1/4 teaspon
Cumin - 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper corns - a few
Star anise - 1 No
Mustard seeds - a few
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 dessertspoon

Dry roast all the whole spices, on low flame, till an aroma emanates. Add in the turmeric owder and teh coriander powder and dry saute for another minute. Cool and blend to smooth powder using a chutney mixie jar or coffee grinder.

For the tempering (tadka)
Gingelly/coconut oil - 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Method
Heat a heavy bottomed pan ( I skip non stick pans and prefer heavy guage steel, dutch oven models). Add the oil and the mustard seeds and allow the seeds to crackle well Add in the curry leaves and then the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till golden and then add the chopped onions, sprinkle the sugar and saute till golden. Add teh tomatoes and saute a couple of minutes. Add in the chicken pieces, the powdered spice masala, and the chilli powder. Add a cup of water. Put the lid on and simmer cook on very low fire, stirring once in a while. Once the chicken in almost done, add the tomato paste plus another cup of water if you want a slightly runny gravy. Once done, add salt to taste and simmer a minute.



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Arachuvitta sambhar with sambhar cheera (waterleaf greens/Talinum fruticosum)

Sambhar Cheera (Waterleaf/Talinum fruticosum) is found growing with wild abundance in the backyards of my native town. The succulent plant is a nutritional treasure trove - Vit A, Vit C, iron, and calcium.

I've used a variation of the archuvitta sambhar (where fresh coconut and whole spices are light roasted and ground to make sambhar masala) to add the fresh bunch of waterleaves I chanced upon in the market. Having a little girl who is allergic to diary fat I'm constantly looking at different vegetarian sources of calcium to be included into her diet. Traditional cuisine that emphasises on the need to cook from whole and fresh ingredients, I've found, is the best guide.


Sambhar cheera (waterleaf) - a large bunch
Tomatoes - 3-4 meium sized, ripe ones
Small onions (shallots) - 6-8 Nos
Garlic - 6-8 cloves
Ginger - 1/4 inch piece
Green chillies - 2 Nos
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Sambhar parippu (Toor dhal/yellow pigeon peas) - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups

Rinse out the toor dhal well and pressure cook it with everything except the waterleaves added. About 5 whistles on medium flame is what I do.


For the masala

Fresh, grated coconut - 2 dessertspoons
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper corns - a few
Cumin (jeera) - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 dessertspoon
Asafoetida - a small piece (I use teh block variety). else, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon of powder.

Dry roast everything, except teh coriander powder, till the coconut begins to turn lightly golden, add teh coriander powder and saute till an aroma arises. Switch off flame and grind to very fine paste adding little water.

Rinse and chop the waterleaf bunch. Throw into a thick bottomed pan and add 1/2 a cup of water. Add in teh ground masala and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove the cooked toor dhal mix from teh pressure cooker and using a ladle blend the dhal and tomatoes well. Add into teh simmering masala. Add more water if the gravy is too thick. Add salt to taste.

For tempering

Warm a pan and add a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Add a couple of dry red chillies and curry leaves. When roasted, top teh sambhar with this.

PS: I add additional vegetables to this sambhar, at times. This time I added a couple of carrots. I pressure cooked them along with the lentils.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy, tangy tomato chutney (dip)

Here is a quick, tangy dip with enough verve and vigour to pep up even a dull meal. I served it as side to the Tamil Nadu tiffin speciality, 'paniyaram'. Now, a paniyaram requires an aappa kal (aebleskiver/unniyappa chatti) so in case you don't possess one, just serve this chutney with dosas, plain appams, or idlis. Just as yum!

Ripe, firm tomatoes - 2 (medium sized. Skip the hybrid, seedless varieties)
Garlic cloves - 2
Dry red chillies - 2
Sea salt - to taste
Virgin coconut oil - 1 teaspoon



Deseed and cube the tomatoes. Put everything except the oil into the chutney jar of your mixie and blend till almost smooth. Pour it into a thick bottomed vessel and simmer till the raw garlic smell goes away. Drizzle on the virgin coconut oil and voila! you've a winner on your menu.
 
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